Empowering in many aspects, somehow elements of the story feel as though they get lost in this ambitious new musical.
It is admittedly fairly impossible to get a chance to catch every show that is happening in London and back in 2018 this was one show that sadly I missed out on seeing live. But thanks to the Southwark Playhouse’s newly announced Southwark Stayhouse service, I finally managed to see this bold if slightly flawed musical.
Based around the lives of the Brontë siblings, Wasted tells the story of their dreams, lives and of course the various tragedies that hit their lives along the way. Featuring music by Christopher Ash, lyrics and book by Carl Miller as well as being directed by Adam Lenson, this is a rebellious and honest musical that is unique and intriguing all the way through.
The simplicity of the staging really works in ensuring the characters and their stories are heard, while maintaining the focus of the production as a whole. Meanwhile, the sense of variety of the rock and almost folk style music provided by Ash reveals the boldness in the Brontë’s ambitions, while Miller’s lyrics effectively provide insights into the thoughts of each character.
However, it does have to be said that there are occasions during which the music overpowers the story and characters that can make it difficult to fully engage with in places – particularly during the more uptempo songs. The other difficulty is that songs can make it difficult to connect to the characters properly.
This being said, I really loved the gothic and bleak tone of the production as a whole which really reflects exactly what Charlotte achieved with Jane Eyre and Emily with Wuthering Heights. Matt Daw and Sam Waddington’s lighting design really captured how each sibling really came to life when it came to writing or in Branwell’s case a whole variety of different talents that never truly satisfy him.
By keeping the staging so simple, the musical feels deeply psychological – revealing each character’s insecurities – in particular Emily whose reluctance to have her work published under her own name feels particularly emotional to watch.
The performances from all of the cast are impressively passionate and dedicated to watch consistently. Natasha Barnes as the sensible and grounded Charlotte, Molly Lynch as the shy if slightly less confident Anne, Siobhan Athwal as the quirky and emotional Emily and Matthew Jacobs Morgan as the ambitious if lost Bramwell all make an interesting dynamic that brings the characters vividly to life.
This is a intriguing if slightly flawed musical that brings the passions of the characters to life wonderfully well but needs to give them room outside of song to breathe properly. Definitely an interesting way to bring the Brontë’s to life.
By Emma Clarendon
Wasted is available to view here: https://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/archive-2018/wasted/#tab-3-1